Macedonian Human Rights Movement International
Macedonians in Greece Demand Macedonian-Language Public Education
Press Release

Macedonians in Greece Demand Macedonian-Language Public Education


Macedonian Human Rights Movement International applauds the Krste Misirkov Organization for its tireless commitment in providing private Macedonian-language classes in Aegean Macedonia (annexed by Greece after Macedonia's partition in 1912/13) and demanding that Greece fulfill its international obligations in providing minority language education.

Greece has executed a systemic policy of discriminating against Macedonians, and other minorities, and has used the forced name, identity and history change - imposed on Macedonians through the "Prespa Agreement" - to justify its persecution of Macedonians.

Instead of irrationally celebrating the "Prespa Agreement" as a "resolution of a diplomatic dispute", the UN, EU and NATO must condemn its implementation, denounce Greece for its gross violation of minority rights, and finally enforce the human rights conventions that Greece continuously violates. A first step would be the immediate introduction of Macedonian-language public education in Greece.

See the letter below by the Krste Misirkov Organization:

Discriminatory policy on minority languages in Greece

Under the Treaty of Sevres, which was signed on August 10, 1920, between Greece and the coalition forces of the British Empire, France, Italy and Japan, provided for Greece's obligation to take measures to protect minorities residing within the Greek territory. The Treaty of Sevres was ratified by the Legislative Decree of 29 September 1923, which was published in the Government Gazette on 30 October 1923 (Sheet No. 311, issue number one). Among the obligations undertaken by Greece under this Treaty were the prohibition of any restrictions on the free use by any Greek national of any language and the provision of facilities for the use of any language before the Courts, either orally or in writing (Article 7); provision of facilities for teaching languages other than Greek in public education schools (Article 9).

Notwithstanding the above explicit and binding obligations of the Greek State, they have not been implemented in any way. On the contrary, there has been a systematic policy of excluding minorities from using and teaching the language, of each one of them. In addition, since the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon in 2009, the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights has legally bound EU institutions and national governments to Article 22 referring to respect for linguistic diversity, while Article 21 prohibits discrimination because of language.

The “Krste Misirkov” organization denounces the unacceptable behavior of the Municipality of Edessa (Voden) that systematically violates the above legal commitments and follows a despicable apartheid practice for certain groups of citizens who express a cultural and linguistic diversity that concerns to the indigenous Macedonians of Edessa (Voden). A request to the Municipality of Edessa (Voden), on September 19th 2019, to allow a primary public school classroom, for a specific period of time, in order to have Macedonian language classes organized by the “Krste Misirkov” organization on its program in promoting and teaching the Macedonian language to those citizens who speak it at some level as mother tongue, but also to any other person who wish to learn it as a foreign language, was rejected without justification and without the Municipal Authority taking into account the legal obligations of the State. The “Krste Misirkov” organization will need now to start a legal case in Greek and maybe European Courts of Justice, asking for the implementation of these laws. Meanwhile, private Macedonian language classes are taking place.

These violations of laws not only concern our own organization but also affect several other Associations. The Municipal Authority of Edessa (Voden) has decided to remove from the cultural programs of the Municipality on Christmas and New Year celebrations, Carnival events, etc., any local association promoting local customs of indigenous Macedonians, that uses and promotes the local Macedonian language or dialect, forcing some associations to use private spaces for their events, because they are not given any suitable public space in our city for the purpose, while all other cultural associations of the city are helped and supported, in many ways in their activities, by the Municipality. The overriding purpose of the Mayor of Edessa (Voden) is to completely stop these manifestations of the native Macedonians within the city of Edessa (Voden), by applying prohibition practices reminiscent of past regimes in which native Macedonians lived painful situations of cultural genocide, especially in the urban areas in Macedonia.

The case of the “Home of Macedonian Culture” was filed for the first time to the ECHR 30 years ago and despite its condemnation by this Court, three times, Greece has not yet legally registered this Macedonian association.

Instead, a new Macedonian association, "Fraternity of Serres Locals - Brothers Cyril and Methodius-" that had been legally registered by the Sintikis Court of Justice in December 2017, the Court of First Instance of Serres (No. 185/2019) had decided to dissolve it, accusing the use of the term “Locals” (natives/indigenous) in its title and statute as arbitrary because the term “Locals” refers to all Greek citizens of the city of Serres and not only to the members of one association.

For many decades, since 1925, the term “Macedonian” as term for self-definition was prohibited to the Macedonian people living in their homeland, in the Aegean part of Macedonia, thus the term “Locals” was used to define the Macedonians, to distinguish them from all other groups of people living there and especially to distinguish them from the Greek people who came from Turkey and were relocated mainly in Macedonia, after the Lausanne Treaty of 1923 between Greece and Turkey, on a population exchange agreement.

So, those who have been “baptizing”, for decades, the Macedonians as Indigenous or Locals and their language as Local, have now, by a Court verdict, decided that our language should not be called Local!!! But not Macedonian either.

This discriminatory situation that is inflicted on a part of Greek citizens of Macedonian ethnicity, who wish to maintain all their traditions, customs and language, must be stopped immediately and the violation of state laws by arbitrary and racist decisions by Municipal authorities must not be allowed anymore. This behavior, very close to apartheid situations, can only bring problems to local communities and do not fit into a democratic country that respects the laws and values of the European Union.

- The Krste Misirkov Organization - Macedonian Movement for the Promotion of the Mother Tongue

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Macedonian Human Rights Movement International (MHRMI) has been active on human and national rights issues for Macedonians and other oppressed peoples since 1986. MHRMI demands respect for Macedonia's name, identity and human rights for oppressed Macedonians in the Balkans. For more information: 1-416-850-7125, info@mhrmi.org, mhrmi.org, twitter.com/mhrmi, facebook.com/mhrmi, instagram.com/MacedonianHumanRights #OurNameIsMacedonia